New Delhi, August 20; Attempts by the government to push through the National Food Security Bill in the Lok Sabha failed as proceedings of both the Houses of Parliament were disrupted repeatedly over the issue of missing files in coal blocks allocation. A determined opposition insisted it would settle for nothing less than an explanation from the Prime Minister.
In the Rajya Sabha, amidst the din, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal read out a statement on the missing files — first reported in The Hindu — but the opposition benches were not impressed. The Parliament would resume its sitting on Thursday, as Wednesday is a holiday for Raksha Bandhan.
However, going by the assertion of the BJP, both the Houses could function normally only if Manmohan Singh explains the missing files. The government has categorically ruled out a statement by Dr. Singh.
‘All files accounted for’
Mr. Jaiswal’s contention that the missing files pertained to the period before 2004 was vehemently contested by the Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley who asked Mr. Jaiswal to inform the house that no file after 2004 is unaccounted for.
Rejecting Jaiswal’s statement, Mr. Jaitley said files concerning “one family’s involvement” in the scam had gone missing. “Files don’t disappear, they are made to disappear,” he said.
The Minister said that a committee has been constituted to go into the issue of missing files which has held two meetings. “I would like to assure the House that my ministry would leave no stone unturned in tracing and providing the documents sought by the CBI”.
Responding to this, Mr. Jaitley wanted to know whether any FIR had been lodged by the Coal Ministry about the missing files. Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M) asked the government to talk to all parties, reach an understanding and end the disruption in both the Houses while insisting that the Prime Minister should make a statement.
Raising the issue, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj in the Lok Sabha said the Prime Minister had taken “full responsibility” for the decisions of the Coal Ministry in a statement he made in the House on August 27 last year and hence should make a statement. She alleged that the files have gone missing as some big leaders of the Congress were involved.
The BJP contended the missing files pertained to the period 2006-09 when “arbitrary allotments” were made when the Coal Ministry was under the charge of the Prime Minister.
Later the BJP National spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters, “The Congress has been fully exposed in the case. The case of missing files is yet another effort to save the Prime Minister in the coal scam. First they tried to deny there was a scam in the allocations and now Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal is trying to mislead the nation by saying the missing files are from the pre-2004 period”.